addressing food waste through crop donation


ADDRESSING FOOD WASTE THROUGH CROP DONATION Chergai Gao Rittenberg, Danielle Edwards JD MS, Katie Heley MPH, Saifra Khan MPH, Leah Seifu MD MPH DISCLOSURES I have no relationships to disclose. BACKGROUND WHY CROP DONATION? At least 40%

  1. ADDRESSING FOOD WASTE THROUGH CROP DONATION Chergai Gao Rittenberg, Danielle Edwards JD MS, Katie Heley MPH, Saifra Khan MPH, Leah Seifu MD MPH

  2. DISCLOSURES I have no relationships to disclose.


  4. WHY CROP DONATION? ▪ At least 40% of food in the United States goes to waste (NRDC) ▪ These losses result in significant costs and missed opportunities: ▪ Financially: $165 billion worth of uneaten food discarded each year ▪ Environmentally: Largest component of municipal landfills ▪ Socially: 48.1 million Americans live in food-insecure households ▪ Focus on farm-level food wastage ▪ Approach to reduce farm food waste: crop donation

  5. FILLING THE GAPS ■ Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission ■ “Hub and Spoke Program” ■ What we discovered… ■ Broadened focus and revised objectives

  6. ADDRESSING FOOD WASTE IN THE FARMING COMMUNITY: PERCEPTIONS OF AND MOTIVATIONS FOR CROP DONATION RESEARCH OBJECTIVES: 1. What currently motivates farmers to donate crops? 2. What are the perceived barriers that exist toward crop donation according to farmers? 3. What would further incentivize or facilitate farmers to donate crops (including but not limited to tax incentives)?


  8. WHAT WE’VE DONE ■ Methods: interviews and observations ■ Selection of participations: SMADC, snowball sampling ■ Data collection: ■ In-person interviews ■ Phone interviews

  9. INTERVIEWS: THROUGHOUT MARYLAND 2 Key Informants 8 Small scale size Farms 2 Mid-size Farms 2 Large scale Farms Total of 14 interviewees


  11. WHAT WE’VE DONE ■ Data Analysis: ■ Development of codebook ■ Coding of transcripts ■ Extraction and organization of coded text ■ Analysis of extracted text


  13. 1) FOOD WASTE WHERE IS FOOD WASTED ON FARMS? Damaged crops Deemed inedible Over-ripe Food gone bad Not harvested Labor needs (0-20%) Difficulties of harvesting process Loss at harvest Cost of harvesting Excess grown Deemed un-sellable “Cosmetically challenged” Farmers Market Excess at point of sale Harvested but not Roadside stands sold From growth (5-20%) “Cosmetically challenged” From poor handling

  14. 1) FOOD WASTE WHAT IS DONE WITH THAT FOOD? ■ “Natural compost” ■ Feed to animals ■ Sell as seconds ■ Farmers themselves consume ■ Donate When we sell a tomato, we sell a perfect tomato. The kinda “ tomato that you wanna see in a grocery store… about half of the tomatoes that we grow have blemishes in them. A pit or somethin’. It’s still completely edible, but most consumers are gonna look at that and be like, ‘What’s wrong with that tomato? ” I don’t want to eat it.’

  15. 2) MOTIVATIONS FOR CROP DONATION ■ Community ■ Desire To Not Waste Crops ■ Personal Gratification ■ Business ■ Values

  16. 2) MOTIVATIONS FOR CROP DONATION ■ Community Doing Good For and Giving Back To One’s Community – Helping Others – People In Need / Knowledge of the Scope of Hunger – Community Improvement – Social Impact – “You have to give back to the community. That is the dominant thing, that is the only reason to do it.”

  17. 2) MOTIVATIONS FOR CROP DONATION ■ Desire To Not Waste Crops “Staff is welcome to take home old produce first and foremost. After that, it gets reserved and donated to the food pantry. Beyond that, I bring it home and feed it to goats and chickens and after that it gets composted. So we have the full range of that product is never let out of our system. It’s never thrown in the trash, all those nutrients and minerals will be recycled one way or another with, you know, humans obviously being first and foremost, top priority, but otherwise it’s returned to the soil and used to nurture the next generation of plants. So we throw almost nothing out.”

  18. 2) MOTIVATIONS FOR CROP DONATION ■ Business – Payment – Positive Promotion – Farm Stabilization “[W]e’ve had customers come in and say ‘I know you support the food pantry.’ So I think there is a sense from the community that they’re more supportive of us because we’re supportive of them.”

  19. 2) MOTIVATIONS FOR CROP DONATION ■ Personal Gratification “it makes me feel good that we are giving something away that people need.” ■ Values Philosophical/Cultural – Religious/Spiritual – Personal/Innate – “…but [the] majority of the people who give it away? They don't give it away because um, the financial gains or rewards they're going to get, they do it because it's the right thing to do.”

  20. 2) BARRIERS TO CROP DONATION ■ Financial ■ Convenience ■ Logistics ■ Misconceptions ■ Lack of Knowledge

  21. 3) BARRIERS TO CROP DONATION “I mean ideally you would donate because it’s easier but that is not currently how it works.” Financial ■ Paid Labor – Boxes – Transportation – Cost of harvesting – Convenience ■ Time – Distance –

  22. 3) BARRIERS TO CROP DONATION ■ Logistics – Transportation – Labor (gleaning) ■ Misconceptions – How much can be donated – Capacity of food pantries ■ Lack of knowledge – Awareness of donation – When/where/to whom

  23. 4) FACILITATORS FOR CROP DONATION Motivations Barriers ▪ Community ▪ Financial ▪ Desire not to waste crops ▪ Convenience ▪ Business ▪ Logistics ▪ Rewarding ▪ Misconceptions ▪ Values ▪ Lack of knowledge

  24. 4) FACILITATORS FOR CROP DONATION ■ Draw upon motivations – Keep it local (Personal Facilitator/Community) – Other people donating (Community/Values) – Community recognition (Business)

  25. 4) FACILITATORS FOR CROP DONATION ■ Other people donating – Buy-in – Inspiration – Sense that everyone is doing it “I mean, the people that you meet and you – when you start dealin’ with food pantries and places like Farming for Hunger… you see all the work they’re doin… I mean, they inspire you. You get around people like that, that are just so positive and so charismatic that you know, it’s infectious.”

  26. 4) FACILITATORS FOR CROP DONATION ■ Address barriers – Convenience (Convenience) – Logistics (Logistics) – Tax incentives (Financial) – Education (Lack of Knowledge)

  27. 4) FACILITATORS FOR CROP DONATION ■ Logistics – Truck – Labor – Central location – Information resources “If there was a way for somebody to have a truck, preferably a refrigerated truck, say to go around at a predestined all of these...roadside [stands] and say ‘you know, what have you got that is not gonna make [it].”

  28. 4) FACILITATORS FOR CROP DONATION Tax incentives ■ ■ Yes, would increase donations; however, would donate regardless ■ Concerns: How to determine value of goods donated – Potential for fraud – Wary of government involvement – Logistics of tax credit: timing, paperwork – I’m glad to give it because at least it’s goin’ somewhere and it’s bein’ used and its doing good in the community, but it’d be nice to get a little credit for it. You know, get something for it, you’re already taking a loss. So a tax credit would be... very helpful.

  29. 4) FACILITATORS FOR CROP DONATION ■ Education – Donation exists – Need in the community – Impact of the donation “ We never even really thought about… the poor, the needy, or anything like that. That never entered my mind until it was brought to my attention that there is a need.”


  31. STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS ■ Strengths – Qualitative design allowed for deeper exploration – Multiple forms of data collection informed one another ■ Limitations – A majority of the farms are small-scale – 3 informants work for a farm that gets paid to donate all of their crops

  32. OVERARCHING THEMES ■ Varied and extensive motivations to donate ■ Community, loyalty, and ethics permeates farming and donation considerations ■ Varied facilitators, but convenience seems to be the most desired ■ Standards for selling vs donating ( “cosmetically challenged”) ■ “It’s a movement”

  33. IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY ■ Design incentives that draw upon motivations and address barriers – It’s not just money ■ Incorporate the farming community in the design of policies ■ Recognize that priorities of policymakers and farmers may differ but are compatible



  36. Next Steps ■ Goal: Publish – Data Collection ■ IDIs – Data Analysis ■ Journals: – Food policy – Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition

  37. ACKNOWEDGEMENTS ■ Danielle Edwards, Katie Heley, Saifra Khan, and Leah Seifu ■ Center for Livable Futures- Funding ■ Dr. Roni Neff (JHSPH)- Advisor ■ Priscilla Wentworth (SMADC) ■ All of the farmers we met along the way!


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